It happens 12 times a year in Canton, and this weekend marks the fourth time this year that First Monday Trade Days is happening. This monthly happening is one of my wife's favorite destinations for the weekend. I think it's because a lot of shopping is involved and she's looking for new ways and things to decorate the house with--  and the weather is nice, too!

It's a tradition that dates back to the 1850s when ranchers were required by law to bring stray horses in to be auctioned off while the circuit judge would stop in the Van Zandt county seat of canton to hold court.  Over time people, farmers and ranchers would bring in produce, excess crops and goods to trade or buy. As this tradition continued over time, the event became known as "First Monday Trades Days" and sometimes as "Horse Monday."

Now, each First Monday Trade Days happens the weekend before the first Monday each month.

As the years have gone on, the Trade Days site has grown to be larger than 100 acres, hosts more than 6,000 vendors and see more than 500,000 visitors throughout the four-day run depending upon the year. These days there's not much trading going on, only selling!

With that said, you can find just about anything at First Monday Trades Days. There are artists showing off their paintings, wood carvings, metal working skills and more.  There are "crafty" people that have made a wide variety of things (hair bows, swags, dog clothing and more) that display their unique talent. There are antiques of all kinds, books, plants, clothing, signs, quilts and more!

There's also food, too, so when you need to quench your thirst or satisfy your appetite, there are many different restaurants and carnival style booths to fix your cravings.

When heading out to First Monday Trade Days, the First Monday Canton website offers these helpful tips:

* To avoid the crowds, shop on Thursday.
* Wear comfortable walking shoes. Flip-flops and dress shoes are not recommended.
* Be prepared for changing temperatures by layering comfortable clothing.
* Wear sunscreen and re-apply frequently.
* Non-aggressive dogs are permitted in the Original First Monday Park, but they must be kept on a leash and owners must clean up after them.

They also have more helpful tips online. One tip from me: if you have a small child, make sure you bring their stroller or drag along a wagon, because you'll end up carrying them an awful lot!

I know many East Texans have been to Canton's First Monday Trade Days and I'm wondering what's the best thing you've ever seen and purchased there.  Let me know below and happy shopping this weekend.

Check out their slideshow that features vendors showing off their goods.